ESL Teaching Tips - How to Work With Read-Alouds
Jan 26, 2010 English as a Second Language (ESL) 5094 Views
Read alouds represent an effective form of strategy intervention technique where students are taught "skills [but] within the context of language" (Strickland, 1993). Teachers can start with reading big books aloud as many as three or four times a week for ten minutes. Creating the conditions for interaction has implications for bridging oral and early literacy instruction.
The all-popular story Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? (Carle and Martin,1999) can easily incorporate a variety of top-down and bottom-up teaching approaches including whole language and phonics respectively. By performing a variety of activities such as introducing/reviewing the names of the animals one by one using flashcards and pictures, talking about the picture, ("oh, does the bear look happy?") and playing guessing games around the names of the animal and names of the letters, the ELL teacher can also review sound-letter correspondences and the phonetic families of 'ee' and 'oo' and words but within a word context.
This alternation between text and students reflects the research performed by Pressley, Rankin, and Yokoi (1996) who found that when exemplary primary teachers read to students, they often stopped to let students know what they were thinking, to focus on an interesting word, or to allow students to share comments related to reading. These teachers also balanced their literacy instruction by focusing on meaning-making activities and strategies, along with word-level and decoding activities. The evolving rhyme scheme and phonetic word families also provide early instruction of the alphabetical principle, word recognition and letter writing, and other oral possibilities for interacting with the text.
Guidelines for Read-alouds
1. Teachers should choose books they love, in hope that their own enthusiasm will transmit to their students.
2. Teachers should select books that have illustrations that support the text. The text has to be understandable.
3. Teachers should select books around previously introduced themes, so that the content area is familiar.
4. In order to activate awareness and background knowledge, teachers should have discussions prior to the reading prior to the reading, in order to activate awareness and background knowledge. These discussions can be done in L1, and should include predictions and brainstorming sessions around the title, the author, the cover, the excerpts on the back cover, etc.
5. Teaches should hold the book up to allow their students to see the illustrations. In lower grades teaches should strive to read books that have large print, so that the students can read along with them.
6. Teachers should occasionally stop the flow of reading to elicit predictions about what is to come next, and to ensure comprehension of what has happened, and of the gist.
7. Teachers can tape their students' reading aloud, and encourage them to listen to the reading while following the text. Alternatively, teachers can record their own reading of the story for the same purpose.
8. Teachers should encourage their students to create after-reading activities, such as book making, puppetry, picture making, role playing, etc. These products can then be displayed in the classroom.
A successful literacy lesson based on read-alouds helps to engage the entire class and result in some meaningful interaction.
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